General Rate Case Glossary

Capital projects

Often known as infrastructure investments, capital projects involve new construction, expansion, renovation or replacement of an existing facility or facilities such as wells, tanks and water mains.

Conservation

San Jose Water (SJW) has a long tradition of promoting conservation. We urge our customers and communities to use water wisely always, not just during droughts. Conservation can help you save on your water bills. In terms of providing information and help with water conservation, SJW offers complimentary water check-ups, educational materials and free low-flow devices. We also take the responsibility to conserve on our end seriously. This is done through systematic water main replacement and aggressive leak detection programs that help us minimize water lost to leaks in our water mains as it travels between our tanks, wells and reservoirs to customers’ homes and businesses.

California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC)

The CPUC regulates all aspects of SJW’s operation and reviews the General Rate Case application. The CPUC regulates services and utilities, protects consumers, safeguards the environment, and ensures Californians have access to safe and reliable utility infrastructure and services.

General Rate Case (GRC)

GRC proceedings are held once every three years and review the costs to operate and maintain the water system, along with the allocation of those costs among customers.

Groundwater and Imported Surface Water

Water sources vary from state-to-state and water system-to-water system throughout the year. Groundwater constitutes approximately 40% of SJW’s water and is pumped from over 100 wells that draw water from the Santa Clara Groundwater Basin. Imported surface water, which originates as snow in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, makes up 50% of SJW’s water supplies, with the remaining water coming from local mountain surface water, and recycled water.

Surcharge

A surcharge is a tool a water company can use to fund specific capital projects or unusual expenses, to provide water quality, or improve quantity. A surcharge has a specific use and is a temporary charge to customers. The surcharge is removed from your bill when the project is paid in full.

Water affordability

Typically measured by the annual cost of water bills as a percentage of median household income. A widely-used benchmark for water affordability is published by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. It shows that annual water bills amounting to less than 2.5% of median household income are considered affordable.